Although this isn’t the first Phineas & Ferb game ever made, Phineas & Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension is the tie-in of the first ever feature-length episode of Phineas & Ferb, which appeared on the Disney Channel as a summer movie with the same title. What it’s good to see, though, is that the game wasn’t completely rushed in order to coincide with the film (which had already arrived prior to this game’s release). It’s a trademark of most films and their tie-in games meaning the result is a rather unfinished final product, and even if it is a much smaller budget film for TV, it’s still positive to see there was some breathing space, if not a whole lot.
However, that’s not to say Phineas & Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension has a great deal of polish, but saying that, for what it is, it’s an okay plat former and well suited for kids, at that. It managed to carry through whatever it is children find appealing about the pair and their daring adventures, with a choice of playable characters, including an all new ‘Agent T’ character who, much like the boys’ pet Perry the Platypus (Agent P), is a super-intelligent animal who works as a spy. As Phineas, Ferb and gang, you work to foil the evil plot of Dr Doofenshmirtz by putting the chaps gadget-making know-how into practise as you hop between dimensions, as in the story depicted by the feature-length movie.
With such an open-ended setting of numerous dimensions, over the course of the story you visit some interesting locations. Some of which are cliché platform themes like factories, cityscapes and gardens, but some are genuinely quite imaginative ideas, like a balloon world where their form of rain is water-balloons dropping from the sky. Just because they’re good ideas, though, doesn’t make the levels great, as the adventuring can only be described as average. Not that you would expect much more of the game, but it’s standard stuff in the way you walk and jump from secluded zone to secluded zone and dispatch the group of enemies before moving on.
The difficulty has clearly been geared towards the children who watch the show; there are no difficulty settings, only the single, relaxing, forgiving pace of play. An AI buddy helps you out, or alternatively, there is two-player co-op for another human to help you out, and there are no time limits or other restrictions hurrying you along. Invisible walls cushion you in to prevent you from taking a spill over the edge, and in sections where it is possible to run off of the edge – according to the great Phineas himself – you are equipped with one of their many inventions the teleporter belt, meaning whenever you fall off of the edge, you simply appear where you were before you jumped off ready to try again. As such, there is no concept of lives. That said, you do have a health bar, but fallen enemies spit out more health packs than even small children are likely to need, and dying through loss of health only results in the aforementioned offer of retrying from where you were anyway.
There are six different dimensions, each home to a set of short levels, although these are essentially sub-levels they’re so short, as some are brief encounters with bosses or flying sections. That’s right, as well as platforming, there are on-rails flying sections where you steer and shoot as you move through as scene in a jetpack. In addition, occasional other sequences where you have to guide something – be it you or another object – through 2-D or 3-D spaces. In effect, you can almost take it as having 6 decent sized levels, even though it does benefit from breaking it down as this method allows for shorter play sessions. However, there is evidence of a lack of polish through some of the glitches present. Despite being fairly harmless in nature, some circumstances haven’t been accounted for meaning you can manage to slip through walls and floors to plummet to your doom – well, that would be the case if you didn’t instantly appear back on solid ground again straight after.
As you would expect from a game about inventor brothers, there’s a focus on gadgetry, with 5 of their credulous gadgets forming your arsenal of weaponry, like an anti-gravity way for some basic puzzles where you have to lift heavy pieces (you guessed it, parts of more inventions), or a baseball launcher gun for dispatching evil minions. The collectibles are focussed around the gadgets too; collecting raw modifications for your weapons lying around; little bits of electronics that can be fashioned into computer chips to undergo more upgrades like increasing the ammo capacity/damage/rate of fire; or picking up golden tokens which are currency for two funfair-style mini-games, which earn you tickets which can be redeemed against other enhancements.
Overall, Phineas & Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension does its job quite well. The game as a whole is average; the adventuring is similar to that of many movie tie-ins, but importantly, isn’t broken; the dispersal of non-threatening bugs shows a lack of polish but doesn’t hurt anybody; and the graphics hold up quite well for the Wii’s standards, although I expect it’s a different story when it comes to the PS3’s visuals relative to other games. It’s unchallenging, making it ideal for young Phineas & Ferb fans, plus it’s a decent enough platformer for me not to discourage you from getting it if you’re looking for a co-op game with the kids, as somehow the developers have managed to tone down the franchise’s annoyingness to a manageable level (probably starting with the removal of that horrible, horrible theme tune).